Drones kill 28 people, then hit the funeral
A recent string of bombings, killing dozens in Pakistan, has the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, or “drone,” making headlines once again. So-called “Predator Drones” have become one of imperialism’s favorite tools of oppression. Bombing attacks by these vehicles are being carried out consistently and more frequently than ever. (1).
Predator Drones are center stage as the US ups its assault on Pakistan’s northwest border region. At least 28 people were killed as a result of drone strikes in South Waziristan during the week of September 19 (2). The week’s two bloodiest attacks, responsible for more than a dozen deaths, took place on September 22. The initial strike launched two missiles at a targeted vehicle, killing seven. A funeral was arranged for the victims in the following hours; subsequently, this funeral was also targeted by a drone strike, resulting in more deaths yet. This absurd sequence mirrors an incident that took place last summer. On the morning of Tuesday 23 June 2009, unmanned drones killed more than 45 people in a series of bombings including a strike on a funeral procession for victims of the earlier assault (3).
Violence caused by drone missiles has sparked outrage in Pakistan, where drones have killed at least 1,700 people(4). The mutilation caused by the bombings makes compiling a solid count of the deaths all but impossible. Even so, it is clear that hundreds of those killed have been civilians (5). Drones have been a fixture in Pakistan for over five years; however, US officials do not officially comment on any drone activities. The attacks fall under the veil of CIA secrecy. It is clear, nonetheless, that using drones has become particularly attractive to decision-makers in the past two years. Estimated death tolls clearly show drone attacks being responsible for more deaths in 2009 alone than in the four years between 2004-2008 combined (6).
With mounting numbers of casualties, drone attacks have become known for their haphazard destruction. Missiles fired from the unpiloted vehicles are often grossly off-target. This, and general belligerence have contributed to the high civilian deaths which have, embarrassingly for the US, included Amerikan citizens (7).
Part of the cause of the vehicle’s reckless imprecision is being revealed in an ongoing lawsuit. Accusations and evidence depict the as CIA consciously utilizing faulty targeting software in the unmanned vehicles. IISI, a small, Massachusetts-based software company alleges that IT firm “Netezza” facilitated the CIA with a pirated, and knowingly-unreliable, version of their software to the CIA for use in US drone vehicles. The location-analysis software in turn may have produced locations up to 13 meters off target (8). IISI was pressured to meet a quick deadline to provide the software, when the company voiced reservations, Netezza allegedly went ahead and reverse-engineered the program themselves. The IISI Chief Technology Officer summarized his earliest feelings on the situation, stating, “they want to kill people with my software that doesn’t work” (9). The lawsuit aims to halt use of the pirated software by Netezza and its clients, including the CIA. IISI has expressed concern that the buggy software may lead to loss of innocent life. Unfortunately, the host of civilian deaths cannot be declared a mere “software issue.” Such recklessness is hardwired into the logic of imperialism.
Predator Drones are becoming a standard instrument in the oppression of Third World peoples by . As RAIM has noted (xhttp://raimd.wordpress.com/2010/07/02/imperialism-drones-on/), US drones are now deployed everywhere from Afghanistan, Pakistan, and recently on the militarized US/Mexico border. Israel used US-provided drones in attacks on Gaza in December 2008. The First World is looking to a high technology, impersonal approach of fighting their battles. These machines cause much destruction, but high-tech gadgetry will not defeat Third Wold resistance. As comrade Lin Biao wrote in “Long Live the Victory of People’s War!”
However highly developed modern weapons and technical equipment may be and however complicated the methods of modern warfare, in the final analysis the outcome of a war will be decided by the sustained fighting of the ground forces, by the fighting at close quarters on battlefields, by the political consciousness of the men, by their courage and spirit of sacrifice. Here the weak points of U.S. imperialism will be completely laid bare, while the superiority of the revolutionary people will be brought into full play. The reactionary troops of U.S. imperialism cannot possibly be endowed with the courage and the spirit of sacrifice possessed by the revolutionary people. The spiritual atom bomb which the revolutionary people possess is a far more powerful and useful weapon than the physical atom bomb. (10)
The Third World majority, collectively terrorized by imperialism, must collectively defeat imperialism. The enemy’s extravagant technology cannot hold up against People’s War.
1. Peter Bergen and Katherine Tiedemann’s drones database at the New America Foundation
3. Ibid. Protest